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3 Ways to Avoid Being Scammed Online

The chances of being scammed online is on the increase. And unfortunately there’s no sign of that changing anytime soon.

I regularly hear reports of people falling victim to online scammers. From booking a hotel to receiving a bogus email promising a tax rebate. In fact one in 10 people are now victims of fraud or online offences. Statistics show that while it’s difficult to completely stop the scammer,s there are a number of things which you can do to help protect yourself online.

In a recent case in Belfast, an individual was scammed out of almost £900 when booking a European holiday break. The website, which has not been identified, allows property owners to advertise accommodation – rooms and apartments which can be rented out. The victim contacted the host, via email, outside of  the website and agreed a price for the accommodation, the host requested that payment be made outside of the website’s normal channels. Payment should always be made via the website itself, however the victim responded to a fake email payment request that came from the host, not the website itself and not via a bank transfer.

The website provider later confirmed that the payment had not been processed via the correct business channels – resulting in the money being lost as well as the accommodation being bogus.

Another victim was recently nearly duped out of £250, as a result of what they thought was an email from HRMC informing them of a tax rebate. The email – which looked genuine, informed the victim of a rebate, asking them to start a claim by clicking on a link to enter their personal bank account details by which the refund would be processed. Fortunately for this victim the bank provider picked up on the transfer request into a foreign account and delayed the transaction while they checked with the account holder.

HMRC ‘never send notifications of a tax rebate/refund by email, or ask you to disclose personal or payment information by email’. They advise not to visit the website contained within the email or ‘to disclose any personal or payment information’   HMRC is advising that if you do receive an email not to respond to the email, click on any links or download any attachmentsbut instead to forward it to [email protected] and then delete it.

So what can you do to help avoid being scammed online?

That’s a good question. There is no doubt, as technology develops and evolves – so too do the scammers. Scammers know no boundaries and operate on a global scale, targeting unsuspecting people by using increasingly sophisticated and manipulative tactics. There are however a few things you can do to help protect yourself against scammers.

1: As mentioned already many scammers start with scam or phishing email. It’s important to remember that banks and financial institutions will not send you an email asking you to click on a link and confirm your bank details. Don’t trust these emails. Even if you think they look genuine. As an extra layer of security always call your bank to check if you are not sure.

2: When booking via online travel websites and accommodation providers, always communicate within the providers normal channels. Paying or communicating outside of a websites normal channels makes it harder to protect your information and puts you at greater risk of fraud and other security issues. Many websites prohibit paying for reservations outside their website and customers are strongly encouraged to communicate using the messaging system within the site itself.

3: Avoid disclosing personal information. Scammers put a lot of effort into trying to trying to fool customers with professional looking websites and emails. Update passwords and security questions regularly and don’t use the same password for multiple accounts.

If you are a victim of fraud report the scam or fraud to Action Fraud which is the national reporting centre for cyber crime and fraud. They can be reached via the follow website address or by calling 0300 123 2040.

If you’d like more practical tips on how to stay safer online as well as protecting and managing your Online Reputation then grab a copy of my book.


Posted By Wayne Denner

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Wayne Denner shares his knowledge & expertise on leading tech industry blog.

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